From The Boathouse: Watch that tricky weather


My column last week generated a number of emails regarding my French translation of "topic of the week," being either "topic de la semaine" or "topic du semaine." I find it very interesting that even those who said that they are fluent in French contradicted each other. I will inquire more the next time I am in France, usually in a marina, and please let it be Cannes.

Speaking of traveling, recently while delivering a yacht to Ventura Harbor, my crew member and I had a very rough ride out in the Pacific Ocean.

We had changed to an earlier than expected departure of 4:30 a.m. after I noticed the seas were building fast, according to buoy information I was reading online. Ventura is south of Point Conception but the Conception buoy is a good indicator of how the seas will be once you are north of Point Fermin.

The day before the buoys recorded seas of 4 feet and no wind at noon, so I didn't worry about our departure. However, the predictions changed with an approaching front, and on our trip, we encountered 8-foot seas at 10-second intervals with wind gusts up to 25 knots, slowing our progress to only 10 knots with water going over the Flybridge, making it a wet trip with a couple of crew barfing.

We were glad not to be out the next day as the seas were recorded at 11 feet and wind gusts to 30+ knots. Those conditions would have postponed the voyage.

Studying a harbor before you enter is a wise decision.

As those of you who have been to Ventura know, you always approach the harbor entrance from the Red Entrance Buoy. Skimming the beach while approaching from the south and under cutting the buoy for the entrance can leave you high and dry, especially in the size of yachts that I deliver. It was low tide when we approached at noon, so we followed a local boat into the harbor. We were not certain on the depths and breaking bar.

We docked at 12:15 p.m., about 15 minutes later than the estimated arrival I had listed on the float plan, and gave the new owners the keys to their new condo on the water.

Tip of the week is join us for the live remote radio broadcast from the Lake Arrowhead Yacht Club, a mile high in the San Bernardino Mountains. Thanks to my "other wife," Susie Smith, for helping to set up the live remote.

My radio crew cannot join me, so Airline Capt. Jeff Dierckmeier will, once again, be my excellent co-host during the show. We will have the junior sailors on the air, and I know that Club Manager Robin, Chef Randy, Ed and the staff will keep me out of trouble. Maybe? Robin, do you have my back?

Lastly, we are in hurricane season, and yes, hurricanes do affect Southern California. Hurricanes do not hit our coast directly due to our ocean water temperature, but the humidity and rain from the storms do affect us.

As most of you know, I watch and predict the weather daily for boaters. A system is moving into the gulf that might affect us. Keep your eyes on Isaac, which has the potential to send us some muggy weather. South of Newport Harbor below Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, is a system that might develop into a tropical storm, which could send some surf to the south facing beaches.

And don't forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead's "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network at noon Saturdays and replayed at 10 a.m. Sundays.

Safe Voyages!

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World